Learn how to protect yourself and members of your family from falling for scams that target elderly consumers. Find out what to do if you’ve experienced a scam, and learn ways you and your loved ones can reduce the risk of becoming a victim.
Con artists will try to take advantage of the fact that grandparents will do anything to help their grandchildren. These frauds are also called family emergency scams or travel scams.
The grandparent scam usually begins with a call from a person who claims to be a grandchild in trouble who needs money right away. The grandparent often responds with his or her grandchild’s name, giving the scammer the information needed to sound authentic and complete the con. In other cases, the criminal already knows the grandchild’s name through social media or other websites. The victim is asked to send thousands of dollars by wiring money or loading funds onto gift cards from the Apple Store or other businesses. Victims rarely know they’ve been scammed before the funds are lost.
To avoid grandparent scams:
- Don’t answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize or emails from addresses that aren’t familiar to you.
- Beware of anyone who asks you to send money immediately, no matter the reason.
- Don’t share information about you or your family with anyone you don’t know who calls, emails, or contacts you through other means.
- If you get a call or a message asking for help, hang up or log off and contact the person directly at a number you know is theirs to make sure the request is legitimate.
- If someone claims to be a loved one, ask the person questions that only your real family member would be able to answer.
- Share carefully on social media. Make sure your privacy settings prevent strangers from accessing information about you or your family.
- Never wire or send money in response to a phone call, email or online message. Once the money has been received by a fraudster, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
For more information on grandparent scams:
Shutting Down Scammers
You can fall victim to a scam at any age, but many con artists target senior citizens because of their good credit. The scammers hope that memory loss and frailty will make seniors easy victims. For seniors who are no longer handling their own finances, state law now allows caregivers to add protection against thieves.
You can fight back by refusing deals like bad annuities and sweepstakes frauds. We’re also working to educate seniors about scams like telemarketing fraud, sweepstakes scams, home repair fraud, identity theft and investment scams at senior Scam Jams across North Carolina.
Fighting Elder Abuse
Attorney General Josh Stein’s Medicaid Fraud Unit investigates and prosecutes abuse and neglect of patients in nursing homes and other facilities that get funds from Medicaid.
If you’re a senior suffering from elder abuse, or if you suspect that a loved one is being abused, contact local law enforcement and our office.
Visit our Elder Abuse page for more information.
We Can Help
Many victims of elder fraud are hesitant to come forward, but our Consumer Protection Division is here to help. If you feel that you or someone you know has been the victim of fraud or if you have a new senior scam to report, contact our Consumer Protection Division or call toll-free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
If you’ve been a victim of a grandparent scam, please visit our Help for Victims information.